Friday, September 28, 2012

A great night with Kozol in Chicago

Kozol & Lewis  (M.Klonsky pic)

Jonathan Kozol brought the packed house of mostly teachers, to its feet last night when he talked about the inspiring effect the Chicago teachers strike was having on teachers and supporters across the country. Kozol said he first heard news of the strike at a book tour event in Los Angeles. When a teacher in the audience announced that teachers in Chicago had walked out, "the roar of the crowd delayed the program for several minutes."

The author/activist hit on familiar themes at last night's talk including a scathing attack on apartheid education. He pointed out that public schools are more racially segregated today than at any time since the '60s and that we have regressed to a pre-Plessy v. Ferguson era of seperate-but-unequal. His new book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, carries on where Savage Inequalities left off, following the lives of children from the nation's most concentrated areas of poverty with personal narratives combined with analytical commentary.

But the loudest prolonged ovation was reserved for CTU President Karen Lewis. It broke out spontaneously as she entered the sold-out Thorne Auditorium and Nortwestern Univ. Law School.  Lewis spoke briefly, introduced Kozol, and then embraced the author in a show of unity.

(M. Klonsky pic)
Following the talk, Kozol signed books and chatted with a seemingly unending line of readers well into the evening.

All in all, it was a great night. 

Side notes: At dinner after Kozol's talk, a kindergarten teacher from Oswego, Illinois recognized Lewis and came running across the restaurant to our table. Confirming Kozol's point, she told Lewis how inspired she was by the strike and just wanted to shake Karen's hand.

A no-show
With Chris (L) and Tito
My bad: Before introducing Karen, I dutifully read through a printed list of thank-yous to all the groups and individuals who co-sponsored or helped on the event. When I came to thanking Northwestern's great events-coordinator Tito Gomez and AV teckie Chris Puente, I misread the list and wound up thanking Tito Puente. Of course the great King of the Timbales never showed up at the event and I'm sure I will never hear the end of that one from a certain someone.


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